- Russia still prime suspect but government story becoming more convoluted
- Sergei Skripal joins his daughter in recovery
- medics say survival thanks to fact of skin-absorption from door handle
- Porton Down told court poison did reach bloodstream.
- security services briefed media that door-handle method proved Russia behind the act – Russia trains its assassins in least efficient way of delivering the toxin
The story around the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal gets more convoluted and problematic by the day, almost the hour.
From being told originally that the Novichok poison used is five, eight or ten times (accounts vary) more toxic than the powerful VX nerve agent – and recently that they absorbed it from their front door handle where it had been applied in a ‘gloopy substance’ – we now have a situation in which all three people contaminated with the toxin have survived, with the announcement today that Sergei Skripal is responding well and is no longer in critical condition.
Sky News, announcing Mr Skripal’s improvement, explained that they had been told that the Skripal’s were able to recover because the toxin only got into their skin:
The reporter, who claimed to be quoting a medical source, says the poison got into the “dermis… the second of three layers of the skin” – clearly implying it didn’t get further.
Yet it did get into their bloodstream, according to Porton Down – who told a court when the government was applying for permission to draw further blood samples for testing by the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons):
Yet, according to briefings to mainstream media by the security services, the presence of the toxin on the door handle was a ‘smoking gun’ proving that the poisoning was a Russian state operation, since that method was part of training to Russian agents:
So we have a Russian training manual telling spies to use a method that – according to medical analysis of the Skripals’ survival – doesn’t work very efficiently.
However, according to experts, organophosphate chemicals like VX and Novichok are:
easily absorbed through the skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.
The latest news from Salisbury indicates that the Skripals were lucky because the absorption through the skin slowed down the action of the nerve agent. Yet according to the authorities, they were contaminated for long enough to leave traces of the poison at numerous locations around the city.
Long enough, too, for it to have gone through the skin into the bloodstream, according to Porton Down.
In spite of all that, the door-handle method supposedly recommended by the Russians to their assassins was what saved the Skripals’ lives.
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